It’s that special time of year again. Preceptors all the place over are gearing up to go to the high peaks of the north woods to midwife baby nurselings into the world. It’s up to us to train them well.
Some advice to you 4th year students from an old nurse-preceptor:
1. Relax. Breathe deeply. You aren’t expected to know everything, even if it were possible.
2. Your job is to learn as much as possible. Think of yourself as a sponge. Soak it all in. Take responsibility for your learning. Seek out learning opportunities whenever possible. You will never get this opportunity again.
3. Always ask questions. And question everything. See #2.
4. If your preceptor tells you not to do something, don’t do it.
5. You aren’t the unit gopher, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Some will try though: refer these to your preceptor.
6. Learn safely. Know the limits of your practice. If ever in doubt, even the tiniest smidgen of uncertainty, ask your preceptor.
7. If your preceptor asks you to look something up, it’s pretty certain s/he will ask you about it the next time.
8. You will make mistakes. Your preceptor won’t be as freaked out by them as you are. The point is to learn from them.
9. Show up for shift. Be punctual. Your preceptor probably doesn’t care much one way or the other if you don’t. This is your learning experience, after all, not hers. However, poor attendance makes it far more difficult for your preceptor to write that all important reference letter.
10. Poor attendance also signals to your preceptor you aren’t very engaged and you take your professional responsibilities lightly. Which means she’s liable to take you less seriously.
11. Refer all conflicts with other staff members to your preceptor. It’s her/his job to deal with them, and probably few of them are your fault.
12. If you and your preceptor are not getting along, or you’re feeling you aren’t getting the best experience, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your preceptor, or failing that, your faculty advisor. Again, this is your learning experience.
1. Cut your student some slack. Novice practitioner means just that: she (or he) is bright and shiny and new and hasn’t made the leap between theory and practice.
2. You weren’t half as smart or experienced or clever as you think you were in fourth year. Therefore, no wingeing about how they don’t make nursing students like they used to.
3. Your student isn’t stupid. And probably is more up-to-date on best practice than you.
4. Having a student is a tremendous way to sharpen up your own practice. Take advantage of it.
5. Be aware that you have a very great responsibility, shaping the professional practice of a new nurse. Act accordingly.